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Question about inlaying

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  • Question about inlaying

    I'm going to try some inlaying projects and have one basic question for those who have done it. First, I know that it consists of stack cutting different materials so I'll stay away from any wood where bright dust colors bleed from one to another. For my first project I'll probably use red oak and maple. The way I understand it, the cutout piece from one wood is inserted into another wood to form the insert. However, there has to be a small drilled hole for the blade to start on the interior cut to be inserted. What have you done to hide the hole on the insert piece? BTW, at this time I'll be doing straight cuts and will try beveled cuts later.


  • #2
    Hi Harris

    I've never tried this type of inlaying before so I can't help you much there. However, I'd have thought you could use practically any color of wood you want so long as you give each piece a coat of sanding sealer before cutting. This liquid (which appears cloudy when it's first applied but dries clear) blocks the pores of open grained wood, thus preventing contrasting wood dust from penetrating into the grain.

    It won't affect whatever finish you eventually apply because it doesn't penetrate deeply and can easily be removed with a light sanding. Indeed, applying a coat of sanding sealer before applying a finish means that the wood cannot soak up so much of the finish, thus giving a better (and cheaper ) result.

    There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
    (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


    • #3
      Hi Harris,

      I have done a lot of inlaying wood using the stacked cut technique. Make
      sure that the two woods you stack are the same thickness. First try stack
      cutting scrap wood that is 1/4" thick. Tilt your table about 3 degrees, right
      side down. Drill a 1/16" or smaller hole on the pencil pattern line of say a
      small heart shape and cut out in a counter clockwise direction. If the shape
      doesn't fit completely into the bottom layer, then adjust your table tilt angle.

      You may need to try 3 or 4 test pieces until you get a perfect fit, but, try it.
      You can hide the hole, it may not be visible after you sand it, with sandust and
      glue or wood filler.



      • #4
        When I have done inlay like this I find a corner to drill the smallest hole I can.
        Sometimes you can drill 2 holes with a 1/32 bit side by side.
        They make an elongated hole which is almost undetectable.

        I also save the sawdust to fill in the gaps. The blend of both shades of wood masks any gaps.

        If you tilt the table like gmackay says, the gaps disappear completely.
        I used this piece for quite some time with no glue at all. But it sat in my truck at work and the wood expanded at different rates, so I had to glue it in the end.
        "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
        Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


        • #5

          Try this method to hide your entry hole. If your cut angle is three degrees then drill your starter hole at about five or six degrees. (This does depend somewhat on your bit size.) Make it so that the hole on the top piece starts mostly in the waste area and the hole on the bottom exits mostly in that piece's waste area. This almost completely eliminates the evidence of a starter hole. You may have to experiment a bit with your hole angle as you don't want it to be so extreme that your blade is bound too tightly or is crimped. It should just be snug against the sides of the hole, one side on the top and the opposite side on the bottom. Your pattern piece should be on top and the insert piece on the bottom. After cutting, the bottom piece lifts up into the top and your cut-out is still exactly the same size as your pattern was and you can hardly find your starting hole.

          I hope I have explained it well enough.



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